School Supplies

Well, this time around I am doing my usual end-of-the-school-year-organization in my room different.  I got the (hopefully) brilliant idea to actually do things backwards this year and see how it goes.  By “things” I mean that while everything is still fresh in my brain, I am now making a school list of what I need for next year right now.  My main motivations behind this is:

A) I’m bored.

B) I really don’t want to have to dig everything out of their boxes in August and go through everything when I start getting stuff together to go back to school.

I figured I should document this because like I mentioned in a previous post, every year I typically forget how I handled stuff last year, so I end up trying new things every year to come up with a efficient school system.  The only problem I have so far with this new approach is that my room now looks like a tornado has gone through it.

My list of what I have and the binder/notebook/duotang plan for my subjects next year

My list of what I have and the binder/notebook/duotang plan for my subjects next year

While that may be hard to read occasionally, I think its still possible to read that.  However, I’m just going to mention a few things that aren’t blatantly on there.

1) The Crapbook-the most important book for all of my Inorganic Chemistry lab pre-labs and write ups.  I used my Crapbook to pretty much write anything I thought should be included in a lab write up.  This was very important for me because I change my mind a lot and because of that, my lab reports used to generally include a LOT of scratched out words…AKA it was very messy. So the Crapbook was a good way of…somewhat helping me to figure out what I wanted to talk about in a lab report (then again, I would change my mind about exactly what I wanted to say, so it was still messy, but not AS messy as my first couple of lab reports).

ie/ page from the Crapbook

THE CRAPBOOK OF ICHEM!

THE CRAPBOOK OF ICHEM!

Always cite sources as you come across them.  I created a crap ton of bookmark folders on my laptop according to what experiment I was doing and renamed everything I bookmarked to be like “Footnote 1, Footnote 2…etc. This saves you so much time when you’re writing up a References list.

2) Duotangs– If you’re like me and love to travel light  because you’re running around campus in order to get to your classes, duotangs are GREAT.  Just throw a bunch of loose leaf in your duotang and off you go!  (they’re also great if you’re like me and forget to charge your laptop for classes).  However, if your prof is awesome enough to send you the powerpoint version of their notes, I highly recommend this thing:

It has a sleeve for pre-printed out notes, and a spot to put a pad of paper to write even MORE notes!

It has a sleeve for pre-printed out notes, and a spot to put a pad of paper to write even MORE notes! I got this at Staples.

I used this because even though my I chem prof sent out the notes, there was like two extra pages of notes to every slide that she had.  (I know that I mention I chem a lot, and yes, that class did cause me to screw around with my learning style A LOT).  I think this duotang/notepad thing is my #1 love of this year’s school supply.

3) Good binders (and pens)– I really loved the duotang thing, but I think good binders are my #3 love of this year’s school supplies. (#2 love is good pens/markers.  Personally, I recommend Staples Optiflow pens.  My box says that they are “needle point liquid ink rollerball pens”.  All I know is that I barely have to apply any pressure when I write.  However, never use these for lab write ups if you use a special lab notebook that has a carbon copy paper like system.  Always use ye ol’ faithful ball point pens because the Optiflow pens don’t allow the paper to make a good transfer of carbon or whatever the paper is using.

Back to binders.  If you get good binders, you will save money.  In high school I had bought some of those fabric binders for my “heavy duty” subjects like Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Math and History.  I think I was either in grade 10 or 11 and I still have those same binders, so they’ve lasted me 4-5 years.  However, if you want to go for a bit of a lighter binder, I also recommend these binders:

Rubber reinforced corners and edges.  From Staples.  By the way, I have no loyalty to Staples, I just go where the good products take me, whether that be Staples or Walmart.

Rubber reinforced corners and edges. From Staples. By the way, I have no loyalty to Staples, I just go where the good products take me, whether that be Staples or Walmart.

I’ve had these binders for a little under a year and they haven’t busted what-so-ever, so I’m pretty happy with them.

4) Coloured markers– I mentioned these in a previous post.  THESE ARE LIFE SAVERS FOR ME.  Throughout the school year, I only really used like 3-4 markers in my notes and outlines, and they pretty much lasted me the entire school year.  These were included in my #2 love of this year’s school supply.  Unfortunately, like the Optiflow pens, these are kind of expensive for markers…I think these were $16…or somewhere in that neighborhood.

Staedtler "triplus fineliner" 0.3mm

Staedtler “triplus fineliner” 0.3mm These are awesome because they come in mostly bright colours and the case turns into a stand!

I think that is all I really need wanted to say.  As you can probably tell, shopping for school supplies is my favorite August activity, and I sort of get picky about certain things (ie/ pens.  NOTHING compares to those Optiflow pens. I tried one once and I have almost never gone back to ballpoint pens.  I only go back because of my weird carbon-copy-like lab notebooks.  Actually, if you are someone who chews on their pens and you’re in Biology or Chemistry, I HIGHLY recommend either separating your lab pens from normal pens by either keeping them in different places or buying two different kinds of pens.  Ingesting nasty chemicals is obviously bad.)

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I made it…I’m home

What I feel like right now.

finals week meme | exam week finishes it's over. it's finally over - Frodo | Meme ...

I finished my finals two days ago, and I have finally recovered enough to speak actual English (before I was just muttering to myself about Chemistry, since my last two finals were Inorganic Chemistry and Organic Chemistry…so I was pretty much dealing with the entire periodic table, minus the f block).  The day that I had finished my exams, I’m pretty sure all of my friends and I were done with life because at 11:30 pm or midnight we were running around campus with one of my guy friends, who was wearing my muslim friend’s burka, bugging other people.  It was beautiful.

My friend running around campus in a burka

Awesome burka times

The people we were bugging were most likely…*cough cough* high *cough* so they were REALLY confused.  Unfortunately, since I had spent all night screwing around with friends until 1:30 am, the next morning I had to wake up early and participate in the moving-out olympics to get myself out on time for the RA to check me out of residences.  I regret nothing.

School Tips

This is purely just me writing a note to myself here, because at the beginning of EVERY school year I always ask myself “how on earth did I study last year?” this is a problem for me because I can never remember exactly how on earth I studied the year before, and therefore, my study habits change every year.  So I am attempting to break the cycle and give myself a reference to use.  If anyone else wants to use this to try out new methods of studying or whatever, go right a head.  In September, especially if I have new profs, I trying a bunch of different ways of learning/studying/etc, so I will probably update this.

Commandments:

  1. Being proactive will save thy ass.
  2. Figure out how thy best learns, for surely that will help thou in the future.
  3. Update thy outlines at any chance thou receives.
  4. Sleep may be for the weak, however sometimes thou needs to accept that thou is a  pansy.
  5. Post it notes will also save thy ass.
  6. Create a Holy Board of “Shit I Must Get Done Pronto/This Week”.
  7. The Library is a God sent space of productivity
  8. SCHEDULE FOR THE REST OF THY LIFE!
  9. Always have coloured markers near by
  10. Remember that thou needs to take care of thyself–work hard, but also plan breaks + get out and talk to people. DON’T BE A HERMIT.

Don’t ask about the Shakespearean…I don’t even know why I did that. I hate English.

I should probably explain some of these things.

#1 is pretty self explanatory.  Be get stuff done ASAP and BOOM! Very little stressful times for you.

#2 One of my high school teachers told me to do this, but being the lazy person I am, I was like “ya right, I know myself.  It shouldn’t be too hard.” However, in high school I thought I was pretty smart.  Then I went to university, and I found out the reason I thought I was smart was because I had memorized everything I learned in high school. That was a bad idea.  In Uni, you actually have to know your shit.  Figure out what will produce deep, meaningful learning.  Are you a visual, auditory or kinesthetic learner?  Do you remember things best by writing it out?  Talking it out with your peers?  How I study for my Chemistry classes, is when I studying a concept, I keep on asking myself “why?” until I get to a basic concept.  This really forces me to understand the content.  I also write out outlines for all of my classes, because that forces me to go over the course content.  Textbook questions that your profs assign can also be helpful.

#3 This goes with #1 I try to keep most of my outlines updated.  I usually use the weekends to update all my outlines, unless I have a major project to work on.  This will mean that when it comes to crunch time, you pretty much have everything ready to go, you just need to actually study!

#4 While its extremely important to get work done, it’s also extremely important to get more than 6 hours of sleep per night for me.  If I go more than 3 nights without more than 6 1/2 hours of sleep, classes magically seem VERY painful.  Also, it is super important to get a good night’s sleep right before a midterm!

#5 I didn’t do this in my second year, but I remember that in my first year that putting up post it notes around my room, in addition to having a desk calendar really helped me keep on top of everything.  Also, desk calendars are the greatest thing ever, but I learned this year that the desk calendar MUST BE VISIBLE AT ALL TIMES OR ELSE IT ISN’T AS USEFUL.

#6 I love my white boards.  If you are in the sciences, I highly recommend getting a white board (or two) and getting some really fun coloured markers, because black is boring.  This could just be my art minor coming through, but I love to have colourful notes (more on this in #9).  Anyways, I have this big white board which I usually write down a schedule for the week.  It really helps me plan so that I only have to spend a 1/2 hour at a time on things I have to do (minus lab reports).  The schedule is more so helpful in planning essays for more artsy courses like English or Psych. However, for the sciences, it’s nice to be able to figure out problems on a white board and not waste paper.  I know that one of my friends loves using her white board for math problems.

#7 If you have a library close at hand–try using it!  I know going to the library really helped me focus, because I don’t have stuff to distract me, like boxes of food.

#8 Self explanatory…ties in with #1

#9 I discovered that writing down key words in coloured markers in my Chemistry outlines has really helped me remember things.  Since I took this year off of art, I like to incorporate a little bit of art into my chemistry notes by writing all of the important stuff in colour schemes.  Again, this is just my minor in art coming out in my studying, feel free to use whatever colours you want.  Also, while all the important stuff is coloured, I usually try and put all of the examples in pencil (because sometimes I screw up a molecule and its nicer to erase than have scribbled out notes).

#10 Plan breaks!  I try and motivate myself to study by planning breaks to look forward to.  Also, I learned in a time management class, that it is better to work shorter periods/have breaks because when you’re studying for a really long time, you only really remember what you started studying at the beginning and what you finished studying on.  Thus, it is better to study in shorter periods…ie/ 1 hour blocks.

 

Just as an additional side note, I’ve found that if I REALLY need to get several things done, it helps me to work on one thing for 20-30 minutes and then switch to the next thing, then repeat in a cycle.  This keeps me from getting too bored.  I recommend this for anybody who is like me and has a short attention span.

Remember, if you’re really struggling with a concept, ask your prof! They have a Ph. D in the area, and also you’re paying them to give you a quality education!

Finals

Well! It’s that other glorious time of the year–FINALS.  That special time of the year where every university student goes:

Supernatural Gifs Galore - Imgur

Nothing gets university students mixing vodka or red bull in their coffee quite like finals!

Even though I do fairly good in all of my classes, every time I walk into the exam room I’m just like:

Mostly because in the time I had to study, my friends and I are like: “Nope.  I don’t want to be an adult anymore.  If you want to find me, I will be in my blanket fort, colouring in my colouring book!”

However, in a final exam situation, the best thing that can happen to me is finding out I actually know how to do a lot of the questions and I’m just all feeling so boss like:

And the worst is when I just stare at a question and go:

“WTF is this sorcery???”

Generally, how I get through all the questions on my finals is by going:

Sometimes I wish I could see myself writing a test, because I’m sure I have the most expressive face ever.

That’s Pretty Accurate

I found this today, and this describes my life for 8 months every year very accurately.

I mean seriously, my Biology guy friend, who gets ways too impressed by normal stuff decided to pop a test on me and was all like “WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU PUT ACETONE ON STYROFOAM?!?!”

Me: “I don’t really care.”

Bio guy friend: “COME ON, THIS IS YOUR MAJOR!!”

Me: “Fine. It melts.”

Bio guy friend:Al Bundy

“HOLY SHIT SHE ACTUALLY KNEW IT!!”

It is ridiculously easy to make myself look like I acutally know what I’m talking about in front of that guy.

Meanwhile my Inorganic Chem prof is all like “What happens when trimethylaluminum reacts with water?”

Me: *Derping out*

 

I really like the last two pictures, because sometimes I think I’m doing really cool shit in the lab, then I realize there’s a 30 minute period of reflux to do (or even worse, 1 hour!) and there’s nothing to do but WAIT.

I think the guy in the picture is doing a Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC) plate, and the worse thing you can do is sit there and watch your plate.  Seriously, do ANYTHING but watch it.  Light a Bunsen burner, do some cleaning, figure out string theory.  DO SOMETHING.

For all the normal people out there, what you do for a TLC is you dab your product onto a plate and then you dab your starting material on the plate as well then you set it in a beaker that has like 5 mL of eluent in it (basically, a liquid that your plate sucks up) and what the eluent does is it drags your product and starting product up the plate as far as it’ll go (which is usually halfway up the plate).  Basically, just think of putting a piece of paper in a glass that has a little bit of water in it, and just imagine the water creeping up the paper, against gravity.  IT TAKES FOREVER AND A DAY.

 

My Organic Chem Lab Prof is So Cute

Okay, so I think most university students are somewhat aware of the fact that science students all have to do a sort of “locker checkout” at the end of each semester, just to assure the university that no, you weren’t an irresponsible scientist.  Although, I can see the locker check list being a check list of shame for some students.  Magically, this semester I picked the lab section that all the butter-finger/drunk people in the class decided to pick as well.  So I can see a lot of people in my lab section being all like: “10mL grad cylinder? Yup, broke.  Erlenmeyer? Yup.  600 mL beaker….HOLY SHIT GUYS I MISSED THIS ONE!!! HALLELUJAH!”

….I should probably start writing about what I intended on writing about here.

ANYHOO!  I finished my locker checkout and I noticed that my lab prof was busy.  So I thought, “Oh, I’ll tell her to have a good summer after I grab my stuff”.  Now, there’s a thing I need to tell you about my lab prof.  She is either the coolest and oldest aunt-like figure, or the freaken most bad ass grandma figure I know.  She marks sort of hard, but she has good reason.  Also she’s from South Africa so she has a wicked awesome accent (although I’ll admit it took me a while to adjust to it).  She’s super friendly (after you get over how terrifying her accent makes her sound) and she also loves to occasionally joke around.  For example, she was laughing at our lab section because we have to stay here while it’s being miserable outside, while she gets to go back to some where in South Africa for +30 degree weather.  All of us were either were jealous or said “nope, I like the cold”.

Then she was all like: “Ugh. Typical Canadians!” to the later group of people.

Anyways, this lab prof made my day when I went out of the lab to grab my backpack.  I was putting on my backpack and looking down at the same time then I looked up, and lo and behold, there’s my lab prof being all like “I wanted to see you and here you’re all disappearing, what is this?!”

I almost died inside because that warmed my heart so much.  I also almost said “AWW!!” out loud and gave her a hug.  But I resisted the urge.  My lab prof even wished me good luck on my finals and I mentioned I’d see her in Organic chemistry 3 and she gave me this great big, warm smile.  It was so cute.  I’m sure she said other stuff but I was dying too hard on the inside because I wasn’t even gone a full minute and my prof had already tracked me down and was all like “I WANTED TO SAY GOODBYE TO YOU!!”  I felt loved.

THIS IS WHY YOU GET INTO YOUR LAB PROF’S GOOD BOOKS!